Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley has declared the River Terminal an environmental and health hazard and he and other officials have promised to fix some of the problems with “immediacy”.
Lashley said today that authorities were examining the possibility of transforming the building to the north of the van stand, which he said was still structurally sound and already had bathroom facilities, into a new terminal.
“I want to provide better facilities for the minibus owners, drivers, conductors and ZR drivers and conductors. I think we owe them that,” the minister said following a tour of the facility this morning.
“For years they have been neglected and I think that we have the infrastructure here that we can build on. Once we have the finances we will go ahead and start to improve,” he added, indicating that he wanted work to start before the end of the year and that a police outpost as well as posts for inspectors and security would be accommodated in the new facility.
However, Lashley could not say how much the project was likely to cost or how it would be funded.
His comments came as he toured the River Terminal, along with officials from his ministry, the Ministry of Health, and police officers, just over 12 hours after he reported to his constituents on what he had seen on a previous visit to the facility.
Addressing a meeting at his St Philip North branch last night, Lashley said was appalled at the state of the terminal.
“No running water, no toilets, shacks being built . . . Drainage is a problem out there to some extent and it is an environmental and health hazard. There is no regulation out there; the stall owners got permission from the Ministry of Agriculture, not from us,” he said, to gasps from some of those gathered.
Lashley also reported that he had received information that there were about 100 stalls operating in the area.
Explaining that most of the vendors at the terminal began plying their trade before the Transport Authority Act came into effect, Lashley said it was a matter his ministry would have to further investigate.
“I would really like to find out whether some built with Town Planning permission. It is really a total mess. The travelling public passes through there and those small businesspeople need proper facilities. We have to do something for them,” he said.
Following today’s near two-hour tour of the terminal, director of transport at the Transport Authority Alex Linton also expressed concern about how the stalls were constructed and said officials would be addressing the issue with “immediacy”.
“We are also concerned about their proximity to one another and also what they are actually selling to the public. That is a health concern because we recognize that some of them do not have the necessary sanitary facilities in place,” Linton said.
“Then we realize the garbage that is lying around. I know the terminal workers do their utmost but some individuals do block, with their structures, access to areas that need some serious cleaning. So we are taking a look at this seriously over the next couple of weeks and may even sooner try to get some personnel in here to do some cleaning and sanitize the area to make it healthier for commuters and the public in general.
“We will be coming back out, maybe not with the full team that was here this morning, but we will be back out taking a look critically at these areas and improving them as soon as possible,” Linton added.